Job Actor
Years active 1922-1967
Top Roles Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde, Henry Drummond, Manuel Fidello, Chief Judge Dan Haywood, Matt Drayton
Top GenresDrama, Romance, Comedy, Adventure, Crime, Film Adaptation
Top TopicsBook-Based, Marriage, Romance (Comic)
Top Collaborators (Producer), (Producer), (Director), (Producer)
Shares birthday with Bette Davis, Melvyn Douglas, Gregory Peck  see more..

Spencer Tracy Overview:

Legendary actor, Spencer Tracy, was born Spencer Bonaventure Tracy on Apr 5, 1900 in Milwaukee, WI. Tracy died at the age of 67 on Jun 10, 1967 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery (Glendale) in Glendale, CA.

The Early Years

Broad, stocky, with a plain yet gruff face, Spencer Tracy was an unlikely candidate for a classic leading man. However, the actors screen presence, versatility, and naturalistic performance style has made him one of classic Hollywood's most highly regarded and deeply beloved screen actors. Tracy was on April 5th, 1900 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An energetic hyperactive child, as a boy he was more interested in playing and rough-rousing than school. His parents, devout Catholics, sent him to several Jesuit academies during his teen years in hopes of learning better self-discipline. Although his grades and behaviors did improve, his passions for academia did not, and on his eighteenth birthday he enrolled in the Navy. Although he trained at the Navel Training Station in Chicago, the World War I would come to an end before his training would end. He was discharged in February of 1919. Upon returning home he enrolled at Ripon College.  It is while there his interest in theatre. His first stage role would be his college production of The Truth in 1921. Soon after, while on you're with his college debate team, auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Not only was he accepted but offered a scholarship, as well. He graduated in 1923. Soon after, he made his Broadway debut in R.U.R, playing a wordless robot.

Between 1923 and 1924 Tracy suffered a series of setbacks. His Broadway engagement A Royal Fandango has such bad review it closed early, acting company's he joined failed and his first leading role for an acting company in Winnipeg dissolved. In 1926 Tracy got another chance at Broadway with the George M. Cohan play Yellow. The play received mixed reviews but it did prove the start of an important creative partnership between Tracy and Cohan. His next two lead roles were both penned by Cohan and were both hits. In 1929, he starred in an off-Broadway play Dread. Despite excellent reviews after the stock-market crash of 1929 the play was unable to attain enough funding to go to Broadway. In 1930 he starred in The Last Mile. Tracy's performance as serial killer on death row was so well received the standing ovation lasted 14 curtain calls. The play was a hit and lasted 289 performances. 

Hollywood Years

In 1930, Tracy trekked to Hollywood to star in two shorts, Taxi Talks and The Hard Guy. After a few initial rejected screen tests, John Ford insisted he be cast in next prison film, citing Tracy's work in The Last Mile the reason. The film, both Tracy and Humphrey Bogart's feature debut, was a hit and Tracy was rewarded with a five year contract at 20th Century Fox. His next few films, including Quick Millions, Goldie, She Wanted a Millionaire and Sky Devils, were all quickly made, subpar comedy's that made no profit. It would not be until 1933's The Power and The Glory that critics began to take note of the young actor. His next film Shanghai Madness display a sex appeal yet seen by the movie going audience. The success however was short-lived and by 1935, after a steady string of low quality films and newly minted drinking problem, Tracy left 20th Century Fox.

After leaving Fox, Tracy was signed to MGM. His first film for his new Studio The Murder Man was a success. He starred as a romantic interested for Myrna Loy in Whipsaw and Jean Harlow in Riffraff but it wasn't until his forth him for the studio, Fritz Lang 1936's Fury, that Tracy proved he was truly leading man material. In 1936, he also had a supporting role in the big-budget disaster film San Francisco. For his 17 minutes on screen, Tracy received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His next film was the screwball comedy Libeled Lady, also starring William Powell, Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow. The film was a hit and Tracy's star was on the rise. In 1937 he won his first Academy Awards for the role of a Portuguese fisherman in the film adaption Captain Courageous directed by Victor Fleming. In 1938 he once again paired with Myrna Loy and Clark Cable for the high-flying romance, Test Pilot. The film was a smash hit and later that year he starred in Boys Town as Father Flanagan, founder of Boys Town, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families and children. He received an unprecedented second consecutive Academy Award for the role. Tracy was now ranked one of the biggest and brightest stars in all of Hollywood.


Eager to capitalize on their stars new popularity, Tracy made I Take This Woman, The Northwest Passage, Edison; The Man, and Boom Town all in 1940. Boom Town, the last of Tracy's collaborations with Clark Gable, had opening numbers not seen since Gone With the Wind.  In 1942 he revised his role of Father Flanagan in Men of Boys Town and followed that with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His next film, Woman of the Year, co-starring Katharine Hepburn sparked a 27-year partnership, a romance both on and off the screen. Although critics didn't receive their next film together, 1942’s Keeper of the Flame, very well, audiences did. The film made more money at the box-office than first, proving the strength of the pairing.

In 1943 Tracy starred in three war themed films. The first was A Guy Named Joe, his highest grossing film to date. The next was 1944's The Seventh Crossing and the later that year, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. In 1945, he teamed with Hepburn for the romantic comedy Without Love. He returned to the stage for Robert E. Sherwood's The Rugged Path. The experience wasn't a good one for Tracy, feeling stifled by repetition of stage work. Although well received,  The play closed after only 81 performances at the behest of Tracy. His next film wasn't until 1947’s The Sea of Grass, opposite Hepburn. They teamed again the next year, this time for Frank Capra's State of Union. His next film, Edward, My Son, was his biggest finical failure at MGM. He finished out the decade with another Hepburn collaboration, Adam's Rib. The received great critical review and stands as the highest grossing Hepburn/Tracy pairing to date.

He started out 1950 with another Academy Award nomination for his role as the father of Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride. He starred in its sequel, Father's Little Dividend and once again with Hepburn in the sports comedy, Pat and Mike. In 1953, although he received some of the best reviews of his career for The Actress, the film received little fanfare. In 1955, he starred in John Sturges film Bad Day at Black Rock. He received his fifth Academy Award nomination and was award Best Actor at The Cannes Film Festival.

Later Career and Death

In 1955 Tracy had become dissatisfied with MGM Studios. Feeling the studio management had changed too much since his early days, Tracy left the studio and was worked independently for the first time. His first film as a free agent was the well-received Paramount studio film, The Mountain.  His next film was another Hepburn collaboration, 1957's Desk Set. After that was the film adaptation of Ernst Hemmingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Tracy received yet another Academy Award nomination. In 1960, he began a partnership with director Stanley Kramer that would shape the latter part of his career. Their first film was Inherit the Wind. Although not a commercial hit, Tracy received some of the best reviews of his life and was nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe.  Their next film was the courtroom drama, Judgment at Nuremberg. For the role, Tracy was required to give a 13-minute monolog.  He did so in one take and received an ovation from cast and crew. The film went on be one of the biggest hits of the year and Tracy was nominated for his eighth Oscar nomination.

It soon became apparent Tracy's health was failing as he was forced to deny numerous reputable projects due to physical ailment. He was able to act a small role in Kramer's comedy ensemble It's a Mad Mad Mad World. It seems fitting Tracy's final film would be collaboration between himself and his two greatest partners: Katharine Hepburn and Stanley Kramer. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner starred Tracy, Hepburn and Sidney Poitier and was an exploration in to the topic if interracial marriage. He told the press it would be his last film and he was correct. Two weeks after shooting had wrapped, on June 10th, 1967 Spencer Tracy passed away of a heart attack. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner would become Tracy's highest grossing film. He posthumously received his ninth Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and received the prize of Best actor from the British Academy. He was 67 years old at the time of his death.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



Spencer Tracy was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning two for Best Actor for Captains Courageous (as Manuel) and Boys Town (as Father Flanagan) in 1937 and 1938 respectively.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1936Best ActorSan Francisco (1936)Father Tim MullenNominated
1937Best ActorCaptains Courageous (1937)ManuelWon
1938Best ActorBoys Town (1938)Father FlanaganWon
1950Best ActorFather of the Bride (1950)Stanley T. BanksNominated
1955Best ActorBad Day at Black Rock (1955)John J. MacreedyNominated
1958Best ActorThe Old Man and the Sea (1958)The Old ManNominated
1960Best ActorInherit the Wind (1960)Henry DrummondNominated
1961Best ActorJudgment at Nuremberg (1961)Judge Dan HaywoodNominated
1967Best ActorGuess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)Matt DraytonNominated

He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures.

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Spencer Tracy Quotes:

Dr. Crawbett: They're about as useful as umbrellas on a fire truck.

Capt. T.G. Culpeper: Now, where have I always told ya that the Smiler hid the dough? Where? Right there!

[first lines]
Narrator: [as the camera pans over the Rocky Mountains] This land has a name today, and is marked on maps. But, the names and the marks and the maps all had to be won, won from nature and from primitive man.

read more quotes from Spencer Tracy...

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Spencer Tracy on the
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Spencer Tracy Facts
In 1956/57 when his longtime friend Humphrey Bogart was dying of cancer, Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were two of the only people who visited Bogie (and wife Lauren Bacall) at their home on an almost daily basis. They would sit together at Bogie's bedside for half an hour or so every evening in the months and weeks leading up to his death. After Bogie's death, Bacall requested that Tracy deliver the eulogy at the funeral. He apologetically declined, saying it would simply be too difficult for him. He felt he would be too emotional and wouldn't be able to do it. Bacall understood and director John Huston delivered the eulogy instead.

Died only 17 days after filming of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) had been completed.

Advertised Lucky Strike cigarettes.

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